Did You Know?
On February 10, 2009, two communications satellites accidentally collided above the Taymyr Peninsula in Siberia.
On February 10, 2009, two communications satellites—the active commercial Iridium 33 and the derelict Russian military Kosmos-2251—accidentally collided at a speed of 11,700 m/s (26,000 mph; 42,000 km/h) and an altitude of 789 kilometres (490 mi) above the Taymyr Peninsula in Siberia. It was the first time a hypervelocity collision occurred between two satellites – until then, all accidental hypervelocity collisions had involved a satellite and a piece of space debris.
Kosmos-2251 was a 950-kilogram (2,100 lb) Russian Strela military communications satellite owned by the Russian Space Forces. It was launched on a Russian Cosmos-3M carrier rocket on June 16, 1993. It had been deactivated prior to the collision, and remained in orbit as space debris. Iridium 33 was a 560-kilogram (1,200 lb) US-built commercial satellite and was part of the Iridium constellation of 66 communications satellites owned by Iridium Communications. It was launched on September 14, 1997, atop a Russian Proton rocket.
The collision occurred at 16:56 UTC and destroyed both the Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251. The Iridium satellite was operational at the time of the collision. Kosmos-2251 had gone out of service in 1995. It had no propulsion system, and was no longer actively controlled.